Gregory Popovich is a professional cat trainer who has taught cats to perform amazing circus-style tricks for television and stage. Cats are notoriously independent, leaving many owners to believe that their house pet is not trainable. Popovich dispels that myth in his books, You Can Train Your Cat: Secrets of a Master Cat Trainer published by St. Martin’s Griffin.
The book contains tips for preventing bad habits by teaching your kitty good habits. There’s also cat trivia, cat humour, and true stories of the adventures experienced by his performing pets. “This book is a perfect opportunity for me to share with cat lovers my more than 20 years of experience working, and living with house cats – it’s about making your life, and the life of your pet easy and comfortable,” he says.
Popovich grew in a unique environment as the child of Russian circus performers. From a very young age, Gregory formed a special bond with all of the animals. In fact, his connection was fashioned from his mother, Tamara. Her show dogs led his participation, onstage, when he became a member of the Moscow Circus Group at the age of 17.
Since that time, Popovich has gained his own repute as a renowned pet trainer and Las Vegas act. Currently, Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theater is one of the main attractions at Planet Hollywood Hotal and Casino. The show features a plethora of pets from the feline and canine species, each trained to perform amazing circus-style tricks. More importantly, every animal was rescued from animal shelters. “My entire show is a big message to the audience that animals sent to shelters, where millions are killed each year, can thrive and do amazing things if given a loving home,” says Popovich.
“If I could, I would be my cat Sebastian, who looks like he knows some of the secrets of life. He is sort of a cat philosopher. He is very smart and ignores the small stuff – such as dogs approaching, or kids coming up to him, or wind blowing. But birds flying, or good food in front of him, and he fills with energy and interest. I would like to be this way myself. Not worrying about the unimportant matters, and concentrating only on the big issues.”
Here are Popovich’s top 5 tips from a master cat trainer:
1. The sooner you get started training your cat, the better. Kittens are quick learners. If one sharpens its claws on your furniture, buy a scratching post and reward your kitten for using it, and punish it for scratching elsewhere. Still using the furniture? Spray catnip on the post, or hang an old sweater on it.
2. Cats understand cause and effect. If a cat jumps on the table, or hunches and is about to spring up, you must punish it right here and there, at the scene of the crime. It is best to use a loud clap, a scolding word in a firm tone, or a light swat on the backside. If you wait until later, your cat won’t understand why it’s being punished, and thinks your are simply being mean. It’s the same with rewarding for a good act – the reward must be immediate.
3. Cats prefers praise over treats. Positive reinforcement for doing something good can come in the form og a loving pat, or a peck on the cheek. This should be followed by an exclamation such as, “What a good kitty you are!”.
4. Don’t let your cat scratch or bite you, even as a kitten. Also, don’t give it reasonable justification by hurting it with rough play, or over-stimulating it by scratching its belly too long. If your cat bares its claws, simply end the game and tell the cat firmly, “No claws.”
5. Never let a cat get away with unacceptable behavior. If you let a cat do whatever it likes, it will continue dictating to you. Therefore, at the beginning, you must set and enforce rules.
For more information visit: www.comedypet.com